From the perspective of maintaining waistline, the true indicator of male fitness, travel is evil. In Florence how could Mr. Henry NOT try the roast hare and wild boar at Il Latini?
How could he forego the fried artichokes and zucchini flowers at Cammillo? Should he have skipped the pizza in Rome? Skipped the quickly roasted chicory and taleggio at Taverna Fiammetta off the Piazza Navona?
Should he NOT have tried each and every gelato flavor at the Gelateria del Teatro on the via dei Coronari? Should Mr. Henry take vows, renounce all worldly pleasure, seek satisfaction only in the hereafter, and sulk alone in his upstairs garret?
Yes. Because Mr. Henry has grown thick, beefy, almost fat. Little Henry has been taking huge delight in chucking his chins and daring him to wriggle into that Speedo over at the JCC pool. Ice cream, previously relegated to the list of foods favored by the morally craven, has become a hideous obsession. He reaches for it even after breakfast. Without turning to spiritual guidance, 12-step programs, or other superstitious behaviors such as ph-balancing or an all-meat diet, is there no way he can regain the true path?
Facing his summer wardrobe, he trembles, not least because Mrs. Henry may not countenance another mad shopping spree at Patagonia. (Mr. Henry imagines himself surfing pipelines on Hawaii’s south coast, afterwards donning slouchy trousers for their insouciant slacker-headed drape rather than for their abundant “relaxed-fit” seat.)
His sense of self, his inner cool, the requisite confidence for continuing his career path, indeed his entire future depends upon regaining that athletic form he had only two short weeks ago, before Italy, before pasta, before caky white breakfasts and crunchy white breads.
On the tenth day of debauchery in Italy, after a shameless pig-out at Il Latini where he quaffed two carafes of vino da tavola and two glasses of complimentary vin santo, Mr. Henry’s liver went into serious crisis. The next morning on his birthday (one he shares with Olivia) he staggered green with bile along the streets of Florence. Mr. Henry’s liver and Mr. Henry’s American Express card, appropriately positioned in his jacket pocket directly over that benighted organ, throbbed in unison. Dinner for five without wine at a fine but not exceptional restaurant, one much less exciting that the average Manhattan eatery, cost three hundred dollars. Porca Miseria!
But before panic takes hold, Mr. Henry must remind himself that his torso swells each year in spring. He is fighting off a Florentine flu, and extra carbs help keep his energy up. Also, markets don’t offer much fresh produce these days. Wherever lies the blame, Mr. Henry must remember that he is not a victim of the seasons. His own mental rigor will overcome the seductions of Italy. He is made of stronger stuff, even if that stuff feels slightly soft around the middle.